Crafting an Inclusive Culture
By Sid Madge, Meee
Culture can be changed or modified in two directions from the collective to the individual and the individual to the collective. The whole concept of mental health is a great example of this two-way change process. For far too long, mental health didnâ€™t even have a term. If you were female, any challenges you were experiencing were simply dismissed as gender bias or put down to the menstrual cycle. If you were male, you were expected just to man-up. Both were derogatory and useless in helping anyone. But over time, our collective understanding of issues most of us face from time to time changed, allowing individuals to express themselves more and seek assistance when needed.
By developing an inclusive culture, that works for all, we create a healthy place that people enjoy being part of.
I love words and I always feel thereâ€™s a clue in the word to help us find the meaning. The first thing I noticed about the word â€˜cultureâ€™ is that there are two â€˜uâ€™sâ€™. The first â€˜uâ€™ represents you the individual, your knowledge, beliefs, customs, capabilities and habits. The second â€˜uâ€™ is everyone else within your group be that family or at work.
Below are three great ways to create a nurturing, supportive and inclusive culture so we can all shine, individually and collectively:
1. Be More Bilbo
I recently lost my best friend Bilbo, a 12 and half-year-old Springer Spaniel. Often people who have never had a dog find it difficult to understand the devastation of losing a pet, but he really was my best friend. He never complained, growled or moaned, he just lived life to the full. He was always happy to meet new people and saw the best in everyone. Everyone was a friend he just hadnâ€™t sniffed yet. He was welcoming and loving every morning and was content with the simple things â€“ a nice tennis ball, a walk on the beach or a cosy snuggle. The feeling I have for him is one of absolute admiration, respect and love. He was joy itself and my life is far emptier without him. Although Iâ€™m incredibly sad right now, I am also so grateful he shared his life with me. And Iâ€™ve vowed to Be More Bilbo from here on in.
I think we should all Be More Bilbo. The poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou once said, â€œI’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.â€ So true. Bilbo always made my life feel better, especially after a tough day. I donâ€™t remember anything other than those wonderful feelings.
Take a minute to think about how the culture you live in makes you feel? How, in the course of your day, do you make others feel? Are you uplifting and supportive, or grumpy and demanding? How are you contributing to a positive or negative culture in your home? Be More Bilbo.
2. Embrace Change
We might like the idea of things staying the same, but they never do for long. Life is change. Besides we would just get bored if everything were always the same and we were always the same. All great cultures adapt. Or they die out. Itâ€™s as simple as that.
The greater we are at adapting to change, the richer our lives become. Iâ€™m often asked how I deal with change and have been called a change expert. To me I accept what is, and I adapt to what is happening without trying to fight it. The more we resist the more things tend to persist.
As adults, we have to become much more comfortable with failure. Itâ€™s the same issue as our unwillingness to ask. Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck refers to the differences as the growth and fixed mindset. Children naturally have a growth mindset: they try, fail, try again and ask a million questions about everything. Adults try, fail and cover up any attempt they even tried and refuse to ask anything in case they look foolish. The kids have it right.
Take a minute to think about the last time you resisted change? How did it turn out? Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? Change is inevitable, so we may as well embrace it and enjoy the journey.
3. Be the Best You Can Be
Always give your utmost and fully turn up in whatever you are doing. Athletes often say: trust the process and the outcomes will sort themselves. In other words, just do the work, be the person you want to be, hold yourself to a higher standard and the results will follow as surely as night follows day. We canâ€™t always control the outcome. Everything is always changing around us, but we always have control over what we do in that change and who we are. Sure, sometimes we will do our best and it still wonâ€™t work out, but there is still a quiet satisfaction to be gained from knowing we did all we could.
We should celebrate our own difference, whatever that may be. And we should also make space for difference and diversity in all our cultures. Letâ€™s celebrate the wonderful diversity we have in our families, our communities and the wider world.
No two paths are the same and everyoneâ€™s path to happiness, greatness or whatever your ness is, is different. But there are constants: perseverance, passion and principles.
Take a minute to think about the last week. Can you point to at least one example where you were your best self? The more we demand that of ourselves the quicker cultures will change around us.
Creating a culture that allows for enquiry and exploration is surely better for us as individuals and as collectives. Everyone matters, regardless of who we are or where we come from or where we are heading. There are 6909 languages spoken in the world and an astonishing 3814 distinct cultures. Thatâ€™s a whole world of diversity and difference that needs celebrating and embracing.
By taking just a few minutes a day to check how we are impacting the others in our environment we can all develop better, stronger and more inclusive and supportive cultures at home.
And donâ€™t forget to Be More Bilbo!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sid Madge is a transformation and change specialist and founder of Meee. Meee draws on the best creativity and thinking from the worlds of branding, psychology, neuroscience, education and sociology, to help people embrace change and achieve extraordinary lives.
From pupils to CEOs, weâ€™ve helped thousands find their magic to transform themselves, their communities and their organisations. From leaders of PLCs and SMEs to parents, teachers, students, carers, the unemployed and prison inmates we help people excel.
Sid Madge is also author of the â€˜Meee in Minuteâ€™ series of books which each offer 60 ways to change your life, work-, or family-life in 60 seconds.